Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7-1 to send the idea of using force in Syria to the full Senate for a vote. This week the House and Senate return from the August recess. Both chambers will take up the issue.
The president, for his part has been interviewed by all the major networks and takes to the air tonight to address the American people on the matter.
I contacted each of Tennessee's federal Senators and Representatives and the GOP challengers for Senator Alexander and Congressman DesJarlais requesting a statement on the matter. Here are their responses.
I will vote ‘no’ because of too much uncertainty about what comes next. After step A, what will be steps B, C, D and E? I see too much risk that the strike will do more harm than good by setting off a chain of consequences that could involve American fighting men and women in another long-term Middle East conflict. There should be other ways, more appropriate to America’s vital national security interests, to discourage and show our disgust with the Syrian government’s apparent use of chemical weapons on its own people.
I oppose the Military Strikes against Syria for one main reason. No definable imminent threat to the United States has been shown to exist that would cause us to attack a sovereign nation. We should not be going into foreign war unless a threat to our country exists.
To top it all off, it is absolutely cruel to think this administration is going to be asking the Senate to authorize military action on the 12th anniversary of 9-11 which if approved, would result in assisting Al Qaeda, the very terrorists who carried out the attack 12 years ago on September 11th.
It is especially important that Congress is playing its constitutional role on behalf of the American people in deciding whether or not to authorize military action in Syria. No one wants the U.S. mired down in another conflict. Not responding to the Assad regime's repeated use of chemical weapons poses real risks for U.S. foreign policy and our interests in the region. These circumstances call for a surgical, proportional response, under strict limitations. The resolution that passed out of the Foreign Relations Committee significantly restricts the president’s original request, preventing authorization for boots on the ground for combat operations and limiting the duration of any military action to 60 days plus another possible 30 if the president comes back to Congress. As we now move to the full Senate for debate, the president as commander-in-chief must make a convincing case to the American people for what is at stake for the U.S. in Syria and why the limited use of force is necessary to protect our country's interests. It's unfortunate that the lack of a clearly communicated Syria policy and the president's own indecisiveness have so far led to such a muddled response on this important issue.
Last week, President Obama announced that, after his national security team deliberated for weeks about the best course of action in Syria, he had decided the United States should engage militarily in Syria because of evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its own people. The President’s case is entitled to a fair hearing from all of us because when it comes to matters of war and peace, we are Americans first. So when I return to Washington next week, I will review the classified documents about the Syrian government’s use of these weapons. Knowing what I know now, however, I do not think engagement in Syria is warranted or in our country’s national interest. (See expanded statement here)
I am opposed to us getting involved in another war in the Middle East. We do not have the authority under our Constitution or even under international law to get involved in a civil war in another country.
While what is going on in Syria is very sad, if we keep getting into situations like this, we will be in a state of almost permanent war. (See expanded statement here)
Having spoken to constituents across the third district, they have made it clear that they are war weary. While the actions taken by the Assad regime are absolutely deplorable, we must have a clear objective before engaging in military action. I applaud President Obama for engaging Congress, but we have not seen comprehensive plan from him. I will continue to listen to my constituents and review materials as we approach this critical vote.
After reviewing the classified information and watching administration officials testify in both the House and Senate, I am even more convinced that my original and total opposition to U.S. military involvement in Syria is the correct path. I will continue to work on building a bipartisan coalition in the House to defeat any legislation authorizing President Obama to commit American forces in Syria's civil war.
There is no doubt the Assad regime’s willingness to use chemical weapons is unacceptable and that his growing dependence on Iran is a threat to stability in the Middle East. But President Obama’s weak and ineffective approach over the last few years in this part of the world continues to weaken our nation’s stature overseas. That weakened stature is why Assad ignored President Obama in the first place. The President “leads” from behind and when he inches toward action, he does so without a clear sense of purpose or an attainable conclusion. This administration, at this point in time, cannot be trusted with an authorization of military force in Syria. Congress should reject the President's ill-conceived, ill-timed request. (See expanded statement here)
I have attended classified briefings on Syria, and they’ve raised more questions than answers. I haven't made up my mind. I’m extremely leery of U.S. military involvement, and I won’t decide how to vote until I see the specifics of the resolution.
Our Constitution delegates the responsibility to declare war to Congress, and I am glad that the President is seeking our authorization before entering into military action in Syria. There are serious concerns and questions that must be addressed, and I look forward to reviewing and debating this issue as it comes before the House.
To reach a decision, I have visited extensively with constituents who have family or have lived in region; military personnel and their families, military retirees - many who have been active in military intelligence; and members of our Kurdish community who have themselves faced such vile treatment. I have met with parents of young children who have watched the events in the Middle East with interest and fear, individuals who support Christians in the region, and defenders of Israel.
After being briefed by administration officials and having the opportunity to review the intelligence reports, it is my opinion that President Obama has not made a case for how and why US military action in Syria is in our own national interest. I am concerned that US military action in Syria will result in another extended involvement in the Middle East and this is unwise.
This administration has not been able to articulate a plan as to how they would implement the use of military force. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I will not vote to put the lives of our troops at risk without a clearly defined mission, an execution strategy and an exit strategy.”
Did not respond to request.
Did not respond to request.